buy nothing day and income relativism
December 9, 2003 11:37 AM
I haven't read the Common Wheel Collective's blog much recently, so I'm a bit late in responding to some of their posts.
But they point out another aspect of Buy Nothing Day that explains a lot of why I'm so ambivalent about Wal-Mart and places like it. Namely, that a lot of people live on very little money, and the bargains available through special holiday sales and discount stores can help them stretch that little bit further. Wal-Mart and Target were certainly staples of our lifestyle when we were living on maybe eight or nine hundred dollars a month between the two of us. It's great if you can afford to get your basic necessities at an organic mom-and-pop store, but a lot of people live in cities where mom-and-pop costs more. And farm subsidies work out such that non-local organic foods aren't cheap.
So there are positives to discount stores. That's why they do so much business.
Common Wheel also posted some really interesting information on world incomes - namely pointing out what we should all know already, that most of the world lives on exponentially less than the top 1% or so of people, exponentiatlly less than even fairly "poor" Americans.
It's strange to think how rich your $25,000 yearly household income makes you relative to the majority of people in the world, and yet, when you look at US income, four-car families living in the suburbs are just as low on the curve as welfare recipients. We are so wealthy and so poor, simultaneously.
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